Coconut, calamansi producers urged to export to EFTA countries
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has urged local producers of coconut and calamansi to consider exporting to four European countries to take advantage of rising demand for these ingredients.
Citing a study conducted by the Swiss Import Promotion Program (Sippo) in partnership with the DTI-Export Marketing Bureau and the Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines, the DTI said the demand for virgin coconut oil had grown in recent years because of healthy diets, vegan lifestyles and awareness of the harm palm oil production does to the environment.
“We invite all Philippine producers of the mentioned natural ingredients to take the leap and start exporting. If you have apprehensions, the DTI-EMB will help you become export-ready and connect you with foreign buyers,” said DTI Undersecretary Abdulgani M. Macatoman, who heads the agency’s Special Concerns and Trade Promotions Group (TPG).
The Philippines is the world’s main producer of virgin coconut oil and the second-largest producer of coconut products after Indonesia, putting it in a strong position to increase exports, specifically to European Free Trade Association (Efta) countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The Philippines and Efta signed a free trade agreement that has been in full force since Jan. 1 of last year.
Desiccated coconut, used mainly as a baking ingredient, also has a big European market. The European Union is the world’s largest importer of desiccated coconut, accounting for more than 30 percent of global imports. Leading importing countries are the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.
There is still room for growth for Philippine coconut exports. According to the DTI, the Philippines exported $74 million worth of virgin coconut oil to 50 countries as of November last year. However, Switzerland is the only EFTA country that received virgin coconut oil from the Philippines, amounting to $14,000 at the time.
For desiccated coconut, the country exported $234 million to 81 countries, the DTI said and only 0.3 percent of this went to Efta countries Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland.
The DTI also said calamansi could go mainstream in the European market. The fruit is used as a souring ingredient and touted as an immune system booster. Calamansi juice is also considered an exciting discovery as a flavoring to food and beverages.
The Philippines only exported $60,000 worth of calamansi from January to November 2020. Exports were recorded for 10 countries, with no exports to Efta countries yet.
The DTI also noted the export potential of moringa. The plant’s leaves (dried or powder) and oil are allowed for food applications in Europe.
For food supplements, organic certification is often required. Prospective markets for moringa are Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. INQ